Wallabies wary of BOD's brains
Tue, 12 Nov 2013 10:19
He's got a lot of tricks out there
His legs may be growing weary but the Wallabies are wary of Irish great Brian O'Driscoll's rugby brain in this weekend's Test of character in Dublin.
O'Driscoll is into his 15th and final season for Ireland as he prepares for his 135th Test cap and last battle with Australia at the old Lansdowne Road.
It could well be his second last Test as the 34-year-old wants nothing more than to finally topple the All Blacks, and such an upset on home soil on November 24 would make for a fairytale farewell.
Should he also play the Six Nations tournament, he could surpass Australia's George Gregan (139 Tests) as the most capped rugby international.
Although O'Driscoll was dropped for the series-deciding Lions Test in Sydney in July and his explosive speed has waned, Australia know nothing has slowed up top.
"He's got a real street smartness of how he goes about it," coach Ewen McKenzie said. "He's got a lot of tricks out there.
"It's going to be a real challenge for us because whoever is going to be in front of him is probably only going to have a handful of Tests under his belt.
"Whoever we play, it's going to be a little bit daunting for our guys but a good challenge."
O'Driscoll's standing in rugby and Ireland was shown after their 40-9 defeat of Samoa on the weekend when wing Fergus McFadden labelled him the "greatest Irish sportsman of all-time".
"We've got to cherish these last few months, big time," McFadden said. "It's been a pleasure playing with him."
Irish flyhalf Jonny Sexton was so upset when Lions coach Warren Gatland controversially axed O'Driscoll from the series decider in Sydney that he admitted he felt as though he'd been dropped.
As it stands, Brumbies pair Matt Toomua and Tevita Kuridrani - just starting their international careers - will oppose O'Driscoll in the centres as the Wallabies aim for their first back-to-back win of the year.
But his presence and the disparity in experience moved McKenzie to admit that switching 89-Test stalwart Adam Ashley-Cooper from the wing to No.13 was a relevant selection quandary.
"It's a good question for myself," the coach said. "If I take (Kuridrani) out of there then I'm not backing him and he may feel I don't think he's up to it.
"I know they're not the finished article but I back them and I've been backing them all season and now they're starting to deliver and enjoy that level."
McKenzie felt Kuridrani had improved with every Test start since struggling in his run-on debut against South Africa in Cape Town.
"He's scoring tries and he's difficult to handle and he's actually a very good tackler and he reads the defence very well," he said.
"There's a real good opportunity (against O'Driscoll) to learn and do well so it's an exciting."
|South African news|
|» Smith's next step towards Boks|
|» Spies looks to the Far East|
|» Rugby or life: Choose one|
|» Du Preez out for rest of the year|
|» General Du Preez out of action|